I caught this show last night at the Chicago Lyric Opera House. Shen Yun was Opera in every which way imaginable, but with a Chinese twist on things.
Sure there were Tenors, Sopranos and one SCARY Contralto, all singing in Chinese. The orchestra was half Euro-classical, half Chinese-classical. There was also stunning background scenery. That’s where the similarities ended.
According to the Emcees for the evening (yea… MCs) most of the moves we refer to as acrobatics come from Chinese classical dance. I am inclined to agree. Shen Yun featured dancing with unparalleled acrobatics. In my humble opinion, this is the height of operatic performance… with NO fat lady singing……..
I could go on and on about this. I have been a longtime listener to WBEZ (91.5 FM) in Chicago. That is our Public Radio outlet, and one of the only stations where you will hear the best Jazz, Blues and world news, depending on when you tune in.
WBEZ’s morning drive show is Eight Forty Eight, and the host is the lovely Alison Cuddy. I was quite pleasantly surprised to find out that she was a fan of mine. When I was finishing up the spring tour in Zurich, I got an e-mail that they wanted me to appear, pretty much as soon as I got back. Well to me that amounts to a great reception, and I am most thankful.
I managed to work in music from each of my Chicago area producer /collaborators, The Drastics, DJ C, Jeekoos, Radiohiro, Chrissy Murderbot and DJ Searchl1te who got the setlist together at the last minute for us. Large Up the Chicago Massive And Crew.
Video Performance / For Interview Click Link Below
There are two types of culture ambassadors on the Global Music scene.
1) Diplo: He will find the HOTTEST artist on a scene and expose them to the rest of the world. When this happens that artist will inherit (for better of for worse) part of Diplo’s brand. It’s great to be a Mad Decent affiliate, but you REALLY have to know how to think beyond that. Otherwise when the spotlight moves on, you will find yourself out of favor.
DON’T BLAME DIPLO..!! He did his job as kind of the “Christopher Columbus” of music. He “discovers” scenes and re-presents them for “The Man’s” consumption. The issue is that FANS of Diplo have to stop being so fickle! I remember publicly BERATING this No-Count-Hipster-Trash-Wannabe who DARED to try to proclaim Baile Funk (Funk Carioca) “dead” simply because his Messiah was no longer spinning it. Wake Tha FK UP, people. If I were Diplo, I would secretly HATE you. People are dissing him, partly because of YOUR short sightedness.
2) Maga Bo: If there’s anyone I would trust to get his hands dirty and curate music on my behalf it would be him. Maga Bo is a bit more careful. Whereas some might highlight the superstars of a scene, Bo will try to highlight the ENTIRE scene, and work with the most TALENTED. He will try to find the originator of a trend and give that person the credit. If he sees it as important he will even do these things at great personal monetary loss (no sponsors).
The main thing is that Maga Bo’s focus is not so much on himself. Maga Bo will not slap his logo on an entire culture, like the flag of a conquistador. (I had to BEG Maga Bo to even CREATE a logo..lol) His careful approach validates a custom and hopefully creates outlets for many artists in the process. It certainly would if there were more funding behind it.
Am I saying one is better than the other? NO because you need BOTH. Maga Bo’s approach reminds me of something I would watch on the History Channel.. (90% of my TV time is there, TRUSS). Diplo is more the MTV approach, which I dig occasionally as well. Sometimes you do not need to know the origins of a damn drum tone, you just like it… Different strokes. I can get with them both depending on the mood.
Today I read that Maga Bo, and the most excellent DJ Rupture are headed to Marrakesh, Morocco..! Apparently the people of the area have an autotune fixation(?!?)
……..OK…..THIS IS REALLY an example of American, cultural runoff if ever there were one. Autotune does happen to sound cool as hell with the Arabic singing… but look at it from my point of view. Imagine if you went to an exotic island in the Far East, and they worshiped Ronald McDonald . I’M JUST SAYING…..
Anyway, I know the Maga Bo/Rupture excursion will ultimately be a beneficial one for the people of Morocco, and I am definitely happy to contribute to their Kick Starter campaign. Apparently so were quite a few others. They are 160% FUNDED!!
People might remember that Maga Bo and Diplo did the Baile funk video like this one a while back.
Hilarious short take on Jay Leno’s Street Walking episodes, shot on the streets of New York, by Rotterdam’s Rajiv Munch.
Munch, has become famous worldwide as “Munchi” a 20 year old production wunderkind, who has caught the ears of many an influential producer. Through the power of social networking he is one of the superstars of the avante garde music scene, and is now taking steps to make his talents pay off.
One should not mention Munchi at this point without mentioning “Moombahthon” a new genre of music which crosses Reggaeton with slowed down Dutch House. Although DJ Dave Nada is credited with creating the genre, it is Munchi who is the most consistent production whiz affiliated with it. Perhaps 4 months ago he sent some tracks to Nada on a whim. Now he is literally in the eye of the storm.
So, is there a way to make this philosophy translate to Dancehall Reggae? On the surface it seems silly, but martial arts is a way of life, even if you don’t fight. The person who taught me that lesson through art is Bruce Lee.
With his seemingly indestructible protrayal of the underdog-turned-hero, Bruce Lee let the whole world know it doesn’t matter what size you are, what race you are or how many strikes there are against you. You can always find a way to come out ahead. In doing so he was able to transcend cultural barriers. People the world over identified with his persona, seeing a little of him in themselves.
Although by all accounts Bruce Lee’s movies were not studies in cinematic excellence, they did have a certain quality which makes them unforgettable. The line between fantasy and plausibility was sometimes blurred, but for the most part what people witnessed was a physicality unmatched by any action hero up to that day.
Coupled with a philosophy which boiled these extraordinary feats down to “one human being’s personal expression” of his art, people were given the feeling that, if they were faced with extraordinary circumstances, they too could rise to the occasion.
37 years after his death we are still left contemplating the enormity of Bruce Lee.
I know that the copycats (Bruce Li, Le, etc.) which came after were probably great martial artists… but I cannot even watch their stuff.
NYC October 2010: A rock band boards a subway train, sets up their instruments and begins to perform. Only there is a twist; their instruments are iPhones. The group Atomic Tom performed their track “Take Me Out” playing the corresponding apps for their instruments, and received a well-deserved round of applause at the end.
Interesting take on “busking”.. It seems like this practice might become more prevalent as time goes on (and better apps/phones come out). Still, they are way early with it. This may be the coolest thing I have seen all week.
Chicago is, and always has been, a hotbed of independent talent. Every so often a number of artists from the city find ways to monetize their efforts and enjoy surprisingly lucrative careers. This can only be done with the cooperation of the media.
I am not into the whole “kick ‘em while they’re down” attitude you all seem to have taken with M.I.A. lately. This is a hilarious video, but it’s also propaganda against the latest credible artist who tried to tell “The Man” to go FK himself. You know you’ve “made it” when they do this to you.
The media loves nothing more than a good contradiction; so someone who decries the plight of the poor is not supposed to make some money?? If that’s the case I am FK’ed, because I find no virtue in poverty.
“Keep It REAL”: Artists who spend 25 years, standing in their circle of friends, freestyling will say that. Everyone else is trying to feed their family.